Online privacy, specifically on social media, has become a growing concern in recent years. As advertisers often target young people based on the information they make available online, Millennials are realizing more and more that maybe they should be more careful with what they share. In particular, they’re questioning how safe their personal information is online after a recent concern that Facebook users’ private inboxes were publicly displayed. This raised fears about the lack of restrictions on the site and how their posts, photos, and profiles are being used to collect information as YAB member Caroline explains.
Being An Open Book On Facebook
Teenagers my age often make the mistake of sharing information online that they don’t want in the public eye. They’re eager to post a comment on a friend’s wall or upload a picture, but they don’t always think of the consequences. Worse, is that sometimes what they believe to be private may not be. This concern came up recently when Facebook users from France complained to the company, insisting that private inboxes sent in the last four years were publicly posted on some users’ walls, on display for everyone to see. Although Facebook repeatedly denied their claims and eventually explained the misunderstanding, this brought up a lot of questions about social media and privacy.
Facebook and social media in general are such an integral part of our lives that we can hardly imagine being without them. I know of teenagers my age who accepted the bet of giving up Facebook for lent or other purposes, and all of them have said it was nearly impossible. Most of us use Facebook every day, so we forget the immediate dangers that we put ourselves in every time we log on. If Facebook were to release peoples’ private messages, we would probably all be in some kind of trouble or disturbed/embarrassed. And this isn’t impossible — it could happen. Companies make mistakes and catastrophes/accidents happen. What then?
Our parents told us to never post something online if we didn’t want to display it to the rest of world, and we shook our heads. We constantly insist that telephone calls and inboxes are private. But we also ignore the dangers of forgetting to log off Facebook. We hear about identity theft through social media, but we often shake our heads, assuming that those incidents will never happen to us.
Right now, we don’t seem to have a lot to worry about. But I do think that this incident — real or not — has forced some of us to open our eyes. While Facebook used to clearly be a part of us, we are now a part of Facebook. The company owns some of our private information — and it is too late to really act on this. What we often ignore is that the social network knows a lot about who we really are. Facebook allows advertisers to target their ads at specific users based on their emails or preferences. In fact, Facebook seems to embrace its title as the Advertising Network more and more.
It is important to know that now, us users are targeted because of the information that we post online. Data is being used by advertisers to understand users of a certain age group and determine what they want. What we mention isn’t only on display to our five hundred closest friends, but to advertisers and marketers as well. This has its benefits for brands, but will surely become an issue as more and more teenage users become aware that they are open books on Facebook. How far are we willing to go to conserve our obsession with social media, talking to our friends constantly and regulating our lives by our posts and pictures on Facebook?
Caroline is an American student enjoying her senior year of high school in Geneva, Switzerland. This year will be her fourth year serving on the Youth Advisory Board, which she loves, as it allows her to keep up with a lot of U.S trends and do what she loves the most: write. She spends her time trying to master several languages, traveling, kick-boxing and enjoying music and dance, as well as her two favorites: reading and writing.